Sustainable Cities: The Big Design Challenge of the New Decade

The new decade brings in both new challenges and innovations that are pushing design to an unknown space. These new circumstances encourage designers, architects, and engineers to unlearn a lot of the principles they have practiced in developing buildings in urban spaces. This new practice of construction extends far into the beginning of the process, such as identifying sustainable sources of raw materials, closer to the construction site, at minimum possible costs. For example, sourcing materials for flooring continues to be a fundamental step that eventually defines the overall personality of a space.

But how are cities being sized up globally as sustainable, efficient, and smart? In the United States, environmentalism is on the rise with 74% of US adults believing that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment”. This is according to a Pew Research Center Survey.

There are many ways cities are being measured in terms of sustainable development. Consciousness towards the city’s overall impact to the environment, means of transportation used by the residents, sources of energy, and lifestyle and policies implemented are all important measures of a city being smart and sustainable. Smart doesn’t always point to automation or Internet-of-Things. It’s a collection of actions and approaches several people, such as planners, architects, and city officials, take in order to solve the most pressing issues. Going back to the issue of finding flooring suppliers, a city official may decide to engage a local terrazzo supplier as part of an upgrade in the city’s public buildings, instead of bringing in supplies from another town, or even from another country. Another example is shifting to solar-charging lamp posts which are rightly timed to light up and shut off, depending on the availability of light on the road.

Finding and implementing these solutions to make cities smart and sustainable constitutes the biggest design challenge of the new decade. There are countless ways to help build the cities which this generation can proudly leave the younger generations with. The design challenge of the new decade calls for everyone to take part in providing lasting solutions.